These days, it sometimes seems like just about everything is free. You can get your news without buying a newspaper and stream music from a Web site like Pandora. To satisfy your lust for stuff that doesn't cost any money, I recently recommended a handful of powerful and free photo editors that could give Photoshop Elements a run for its money. This week, here are four equally free single-purpose photo tools.
I don't consider myself especially sentimental, but it occurred to me recently that I'm in my ninth year of writing Digital Focus. My first issue, way back in 2001, was about taking your digital camera underwater.
I am thankful that many of you find value in my weekly photo tips and tricks, and I know from e-mail that at least some of you have been reading Digital Focus for nearly the whole time. Since I spend so much time explaining photo editing techniques like working with layers and removing backgrounds from photos, it's important that you can apply what I write about into your own life, using your software. Consequently, I recently asked Digital Focus readers to vote on their favorite photo editing software to help me choose which program to use as a guide when explaining photo editing techniques.
Have a question about digital photography? Send it to me. I reply to as many as I can--though given the quantity of e-mails that I get, I can't promise a personal reply to each one. I round up the most interesting questions about once a month here in Digital Focus. For more frequently asked questions, read my newsletters from January, February, and March.
More Questions About DPI
I want to enter a photo contest, and the rules say the following: "Photos should be at least 300 dpi. The canvas size should be about 8 inches by 11 inches." My camera saves pictures automatically as 72 dpi at a resolution of 3456 by 2304 pixels. In contrast, my husband's camera saves photos at 3648 by 2736 pixels and 480 dpi. I read your answer to someone's question that the dpi doesn't really matter, but this contest specifically says that they want 300 dpi. So what do I do? --Jodee, Lawton, Oklahoma
Like a desert mirage, revolutionary new battery technologies always seem to be just beyond the horizon. New materials, nanotubes, and fuel cells all offer the promise of dramatically longer runtime and shorter (or nonexistent) recharges. But until that elusive day comes, we're going to have to contend with our existing battery technology. Recently, I offered some tips for dealing with your memory card, so this week I thought we should turn our attention to batteries. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your batteries.
1. Check Your Batteries Before Hitting the Road
Batteries lose their charge continuously. That means you shouldn't charge up a battery, put it in your camera, and set it in the closet for 3 months. When you eventually reach for your camera, you might find that the battery is already dead, or nearly so--and you haven't taken a single picture.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, the sky rarely cooperates when I try taking outdoor photos. When it isn't raining, it's usually overcast. I can choose to live with a gray ceiling in my photos, or I can get creative. If you're in a similar situation, you'll be happy to know that it isn't too difficult to transform even the most boring sky into a blue canopy speckled with clouds. Since I've already described how to replace the sky with a real photo, you've probably stockpiled blue skies for (pardon the expression) a rainy day. This week I'll show you a little-known tool in Adobe Photoshop Elements that can generate a fake sky on command.
Isolate the Sky
To get started, you'll need a photo with an underwhelming sky. Ideally, choose a photo in which the sky is distinct and easy to separate from the foreground. I'll use this photo, since the uniform gray sky will be easy to isolate from the buildings and waterline.
In theory, using your camera's flash is simple. You use it when there isn't enough light to take a picture with natural light alone. And when you consider that most cameras have an automatic flash mode, taking low-light photos should be a snap. But it isn't. It's been a while since I've discussed how to make the most of your camera flash; today, let's look at five things you can do to take great photos with your flash.
1. Know When to Use the Flash
Some people leave their flash on all the time, which can result in it firing when it's totally unnecessary. Others turn it off completely and never use it. I land somewhere in the middle. I do tend to leave the flash turned off most of the time, but I switch it on when the occasion warrants.
Have a question about digital photography? Send it to me. I reply to as many as I can--though given the quantity of e-mails that I get, I can't promise a personal reply to each one. I round up the most interesting questions about once a month here in Digital Focus. For more frequently asked questions, read my newsletters from December, January, and February.
Taking Good Nightclub Photos
I have friends who have a band and play in nightclubs. What is the best way to get great photos of the group when they play? They say the flash on a camera does not bother them while they are playing, but I sometimes lose the color effects of the stage lights. Thanks for any info you can supply. --Jack Wheeler, Valdosta, Georgia